It’s official: Pop superstar Mariah Carey, who is one of the biggest selling artists of all time, is joining American Idol as a new judge in season 12. FOX made the official announcement today at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour.

American Idol Adds Small Town and Online Auditions for Season 12 >>>

In a press release, Carey says, “As a singer, songwriter and producer, it’s going to be fun and rewarding to help find new talent and give back with American Idol.” Simon Fuller, the creator of Idol, followed up by saying, “We are proud to have one of the world’s greatest-ever female singers join our show. Mariah defines the word ‘Idol’ and will inspire every singer that has the honor of performing in front of her.”

With declining ratings, American¬†Idol needed to make a bold move for season 12, and they certainly delivered. The hiring of Carey is an obvious strategic move to counter Christina Aguilera on The Voice and Britney Spears on The X Factor. And FOX entertainment president Kevin Reilly said as much at the press tour: “It’s the biggest recording artist than any of these [singing competition] shows has ever had.” In fact, Simon Cowell tried to woo the superstar when he first brought X Factor to America, but a deal never worked out, apparently.

Carey is the only confirmed judge for season 12. With Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez out (though executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, who’s currently in his own contract negotiations to return, was still holding out hope this morning that JLo would stay), we still don’t know if Randy Jackson will soldier on as the only judge from the original panel. Jackson is Carey’s manager, and word is going around that with Carey on board, that pretty much secures his seat at the table.

As far as the final spot on the judges panel, there is still a strong indication that the seat will be filled by none other than season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert. If true, there are two main reasons: FOX wouldn’t have to shell out the big bucks to hire him, and Lambert has already proven he’s not afraid to be honest and tell the truth.

The addition of Mariah Carey to the show is not the only change to be expected. Executives and others associated with Idol and/or its production companies have revealed that major changes are in store to slow downward ratings. And besides Carey, one other change was announced today: new ways to audition, including a small town bus tour and nominating a friend or family member to be on the show, as BuddyTV reported on.

(Image courtesy of WENN)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.